Think Branding…

The national lockdown, due to the worldwide COV19 pandemic, has had negative consequences on many businesses. This has led to people having to think outside the box to make ends meet, some of these ideas being to explore the possibility of new entrepreneurial ventures. While considering which business opportunity to spend your time on, it is equally important to think of a brand that could propel that business venture forward.

It is also important to realise the impact that a good or questionable brand could have on your business. An example of branding having a potential impact on a business opportunity was in an episode of Dragon’s Den in the UK. In that episode, the entrepreneurs were seeking an investment into their business relating to water bottles with the brand STAY SIXTY.

The brand name was seemingly adopted from the fact that “the average adult body consist of 60% water”. The “dragons” in the episode (being the investors in the show and consisting of a cast of some impressive entrepreneurial tycoons) felt that the brand, on its own, without the above explanation proviso of the brand name could lead to people thinking that the STAY SIXTY brand could have a relation to a person’s age, which could possibly have the effect of limiting the clientele of the product. This had a consequence of 4 out of the 5 investors seemingly not investing in a product that they appeared to like because they were not entirely convinced about the brand name.

The above is an indication of how important it is to not only choose the correct brand for a product or service but could also impact how people perceive the product or service.

A few things to consider when thinking of a brand is that the mark should be distinctive. This means that the mark should be able to distinguish your good or services from similar goods or services of another proprietor. This does not necessarily mean that you need to invent a mark, creativity would definitely come to play here. An example of a distinctive mark is APPLE or the depiction of an apple, previously commonly known to people as just a fruit, now APPLE is used as a major brand for phones, computers, etc. and is distinctive in respect of those goods and services. Once a brand is chosen, it is advisable to conduct a trade mark search for the mark.

The advantage of a search is that, before filing applications, it gives a good indication of the marks that may be on the Register and problematic for your chosen mark. If necessary, it is better to go back to the drawing board to pick a new mark in the early stages of choosing a brand, instead of spending money advertising and trying to protect a mark, only for a third party with a prior similar mark to prevent you from using the mark. For branding purposes, our view is that it is always better to be safe than sorry. Should the search prove to be clear, the next step thereafter would be to file applications for the mark. Once registered a mark would enjoy statutory protection for 10 years, which is renewable every 10 years in perpetuity.

Taking the above into consideration, our advice would be that if you are exploring new business ventures, at the top of mind should be to THINK BRANDING.

Lebohang Mosala
Associate | Attorney
Eugene Honey
Partner | Attorney